Matt LaFleur doesn't 'anticipate' firing any assistants, but are staff changes still possible?
Matt LaFleur doesn't expect any changes to his coaching staff, but the Packers could still have some new faces next season.
Often when an NFL team falls well short of expectations, significant changes accompany the arrival of the offseason. For the Green Bay Packers, who entered 2022 among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl but failed to qualify for the playoffs, a belief that certain assistant coaches wouldn't return for next season had understandably gained traction.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur shot down that notion at the first available opportunity.
"I don't really anticipate a whole lot, if any, staff changes at all," LaFleur said during his season-closing press conference on Monday. "Certainly, I think there's a lot of things that all of us can improve upon, most notably myself. But I do believe in the people, not only in the locker room but our coaching staff."
In particular, LaFleur faced questions about the future of Joe Barry, the Packers' embattled defensive coordinator. Despite the front office investing considerable resources into the defense this offseason -- multiple first-round picks and new contracts for De'Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas -- the unit failed to meet the moment. Green Bay finished the regular season 20th in defensive DVOA and a woeful 31st against the run.
Even so, LaFleur made the case for Barry's return.
"I think although it wasn't always pretty," LaFleur said, "I did think we started to improve as the year went on. I thought we saw more of an identity. Certainly, I thought last night (against the Detroit Lions) we played well enough to win on the defensive side of the ball."
To an extent, LaFleur has a point. Coming out of the Packers' Week 14 bye, Barry completely altered the complexion of the defense, cranking up the use of Cover 2 and Cover 6 while dialing down the blitz to the lowest rate in the league. As a result, Green Bay ranked fourth in defensive DVOA over the final four weeks of the regular season, even holding soon-to-be All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson to just one catch for 15 years in a must-win game.
However, while that late stretch saw a transformed defense, more questions linger. Why did Barry not make more drastic changes earlier in the season? Does the strong finish represent true improvement or just a small-sample mirage? Will he require as much time to make adjustments next season when the unit falls short?
LaFleur apparently believes that the current coaching staff will provide satisfactory answers next season.
"Are there a lot of things that we've got to improve upon? Absolutely. No doubt about it," LaFleur said. "But it's my intention to have everybody back, and continuity is a big part of having success in this league."
But even if LaFleur wants to bring his assistants back, the possibility of staff changes remains alive. The Packers could bolster their current group and, regardless of intention, some departures could still occur.